A devastating landslide may have long-term ramifications on the entire salmon-supporting ecosystem around the Ecstall River, about 75 kilometres southeast of Prince Rupert, according to experts.
SkeenaWild Conservation Trust’s Facebook page posted this startling footage of the landslide on September 14th, as captured by Stan Walker from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).
Greg Knox of Skeena Wild Trust commented that the landslide could endanger the future of up to 100,000 spawning fish.
“Essentially, a whole side of a mountain collapsed into the very upper reaches of the Ecstall River and it caused a massive landslide about halfway down the river valley. So it’s taken out the whole upper part of the river valley,” he said in an interview with The Northern View.
According to a SkeenaWild post, the Ecstall River is “a large tributary to the lower Skeena River near Prince Rupert, supporting significant Chinook, Chum and Coho, as well as Sockeye, Steelhead and Pink salmon.” The salmon’s newly laid eggs likely would have been trapped under the landslide’s debris.
Not much can be done at this point, according to Knox. “It’s really just assessing what the likely impacts are, but there probably needs to be some longer-term monitoring to see how the fish populations adapt over time.” It could take years for the spawning species to adapt.
Experts are still unsure about the cause of the landslide, but some suspect warmer than average temperatures causing early glacier melt as a possible trigger.